Hipster coffee spots, industrial bakeries, and farm-to-table cafés—no, we’re not talking about Sunset Boulevard. We're talking about LA’s suburban neighbor to the east, Pasadena. Here, we list seven reasons why you should hop on the freeway and head over there right now.
Basque cuisine with a twist, Ración’s menu consists mostly of pintxos, which are small snacks perfect for accompanying wine. Dishes like the chicken croquettes with membrillo honey and seared lamb with poached figs are ideal for a happy hour nosh. Good to know: Diners weary of octopus will love the beer-braised version at this joint. 119 W. Green St., Pasadena, 626-396-3090
Husband-and-wife duo Charlie and Melanie Porter's Lavender & Honey brings some much-needed caffeine to northeast Pasadena. The lofty space features clean white tile and strung lights, as well as local brews like Klatch Coffee from Upland. Don’t miss: The peanut butter, honey, and banana toast will make you feel like a kid again. 1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, 626-529-5571
James Beard “Rising Star” nominee chef Bruce Kalman keeps it local at this Italian-inspired gem. Working with California farms and LA County’s best markets (the weekly market schedule is displayed on an oversized chalkboard), Kalman’s signature dishes include asparagus and fennel topped with duck egg and a gianduja chocolate budino. Good to know: The squid ink garganelli with lobster and truffle butter—need we say more? 37 E. Union St., â€¨Pasadena, 626-795-5841
This Italian restaurant in the former luggage room of the circa-1934 Del Mar Metro Station oozes an old-world feel thanks to its bordeaux walls and vintage chandeliers. The menus don't disappoint either, and locals pack into this eatery for the healthy salads and creative pizzas. Don’t miss: The crushed ice “slushy cocktails” offer a perfect dose of nostalgia. 260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626-356-4440
Chef Paul Ragan gives Altadena the chic restaurant it needs with ALTAeats. Tuck into star dishes like the bacon-wrapped dates, chickpeas with squid, and a Jidori chicken complemented with beets and sweet potatoes. Good to know: The convenient "Sunday Roastie" menu lets customers preorder and take out a complete meal for four. 1860 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena, 626-794-1162
Founded by Christine Moore of Little Flower Candy Co., Lincoln wraps a bakery, café, and adorable gift shop into one expansive space on the border of Pasadena and Altadena. The fresh-baked croissants, financiers, and savory salads are just what this neighborhood needs. Don't miss: The huevos rancheros will cure any hangover. 1992 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, 626-765-6746
Just down the street from ALTAEats, Eatery on Allen is an extension of catering company Claud & Co., helmed by chef Claud Beltran. Eatery’s seasonal menu changes themes every month in order to feature the freshest local ingredients. Good to know: The restaurant saves Saturday through Monday nights for private dining events. 488 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena, 626-688-7256